German State to Vote Again After Far-Right Scandal

BERLIN (AFP) — The eastern German state of Thuringia plans to hold new elections in spring, after mainstream parties’ cooperation with the far right there unleashed a national scandal and forced the resignation of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chosen successor.

Public outrage claimed several political scalps after a liberal politician was elected as state premier with votes from both the center and far right this month, leaving Thuringia rudderless.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, handpicked successor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, resigned as chairwoman of the German Christian Democratic Union after mainstream parties briefly joined with the far-right Alternative for Germany in Thuringian state elections. (AP photo)

On Monday night, parties from across the political spectrum reached a compromise to install a technical government for the next 70 days before holding fresh elections, German media reported.

On Feb. 5 state lawmakers from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union voted with far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) representatives to elect liberal politician Thomas Kemmerich state premier.

Kemmerich promptly stepped down amid widespread outrage.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest the vote, which broke a taboo over centrist parties accepting help from the far right.

The scandal forced the resignation of CDU leader and Merkel heir apparent Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, prompting a new race to succeed Merkel as chancellor.

Thuringia’s new compromise government will be led by the center-right CDU’s Christine Lieberknecht, a surprise proposal by ousted state premier Bodo Ramelow of the Left party.

Lieberknecht, 61, was Thuringian state premier from 2009-14, heading a centrist coalition with the social-democratic SPD.

She later lost her post to Ramelow, who led a coalition between the far left, the SPD and the Green Party before losing his majority at elections last October.

© Agence France-Presse

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